With the William Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale (from April 8-10) just over the horizon, it’s worth a look at the very eclectic mix of stallions that will be represented here by their first yearlings. It’s an unusually mixed bag, including Northern Hemisphere shuttlers, both proven and unproven in their part of the world, as well as domestic stars ranging from juveniles to sprinters to a winner of Australia’s greatest staying contest.
Congrats is by A.P. Indy, whose first commercially representative son to be tried in Australia, Bernardini , has come up with stars such as Boban, Ruud Awakening, and Toydini in his Australian crops to date. Starting inexpensively in Florida, Congrats made a very bright beginning to his stud career—he was the leading North American freshman sire of 2011—with 14 stakes winners in his first three crops, including a trio of grade I-winning fillies. Bernardini has already sired three stakes winners out of Danehill line mares (including Rudd Awakening and Toydini) and Congrats looks set to work well over that line. It’s also clearly not been lost on Australian breeders that he’s crossed well with Storm Cat line mares.
In recent years Fastnet Rock seems to have replaced Redoute’s Choice as the “go-to” Danehill for sire sons. One of a number of promising young sons of Fastnet Rock that are going to have first runners in the next two or three years, Hinchinbrook certainly has the pedigree for the job as he is three-quarter brother to current leading Australian sire Snitzel. The precocious Hinchinbrook won the AJC Skyline Stakes (Aus-III) and Canonbury Stakes at 2, and he was four times group I-placed, including when second to the formidable Hay List in the ATC All Aged Stakes (Aus-I). Out of a stakes-winning Snippets mare, Hinchinbrook is open to cross with many of the strains that have worked with Fastnet Rock, including Storm Cat, Blushing Groom, and Nureyev.
Rothesay is another of the Fastnet Rock squad. A black-type winner from six furlongs to a mile, he earned his most prestigious victory in the BRC Queensland Guineas (Aus-II). Rothesay is another from a stallion family, as his granddam, three-time group I winner Canny Lass, is a sister to champion 2-year-old and outstanding sire Canny Lad. For good measure, it’s also the immediate family of Camarena, Camarilla, Guelph, and Sepoy.
A sensation in Europe, Dubawi has also sired 14 stakes winners, seven group, including group I scorers Happy Archer, Secret Admirer, Willow Magic and Tiger Tees from three Australian crops. One of Dubawi’s European stars is Makfi, who earned the honor of being regarded as joint head of the 2010 World Thoroughbred Rankings after capturing the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I). Makfi is also very well-bred, as his dam is a Green Desert half sister to European champion 2-year-old Alhaarth, and his granddam is a half sister to Green Dancer.
Another leading European sire Galileo is earning quite a reputation as a sire of sires, including headliners New Approach and Teofilo. Bidding to add to that reputation is Rip Van Winkle, a European champion at 2 and 3 whose victories include the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I), Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I), and Sussex Stakes (Eng-I). His dam is a stakes-placed daughter of Stravinsky—a sire who did well in New Zealand—and from the very speedy family that stems from Irish champion 2-year-old filly Mesopotamia.
A son of Street Cry out of a mare by Danehill, New Zealand-based Shocking has both a sire and broodmare sire who are notable for a rare ability to sire top-class winners over virtually any distance that Thoroughbreds are asked to race. Shocking was an outstanding embodiment of that versatility in his own right, winning from 6.5 furlongs to 2 miles. We can note that in addition to his Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) victory at the furthest of those extremes, he also captured the VRC Australian Cup (Aus-I) at 10 furlongs and the Makybe Diva Craiglee Stakes (Aus-II) at a mile. His first yearlings impressed many at the Karaka yearling sales earlier this year, and his acceptance at Easter by that buying bench will begin to determine his ongoing commercial appeal.
Another based in New Zealand is the excellent European juvenile Showcasing (by Oasis Dream). The fastest ever winner of the Gimcrack Stakes (Eng-II), Showcasing also took the third in Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) at 2. He is a grandson of Green Desert, who did very well in New Zealand through the medium of Volksraad, Desert Sun, Cape Cross, and Oasis Dream, a champion 2-year-old and sprinter who would rank as his sire’s best stallion son. Showcasing is a half brother to the over-achieving Danehill son Camacho. His dam is a 2-year-old sprint stakes winner and a half sister to two-time Australian group I scorer Foreteller and to the dam of New Zealand champion 3-year-old filly Fix.
Winner of the MRC Blue Diamond Stakes (Aus-I) at 2, Star Witness earned a rating as champion 3-year-old colt in Australia the following year after winning the VRC Coolmore Stud Ascot Vale Stakes (Aus-I). He also proved his credentials in Europe with a second, beaten a half-length, in the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) and a third in the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I), both at Royal Ascot and in the space of five days. He is by another international champion, the Nureyev grandson Starcraft, and out of Leone Chiara, a sprint group stakes-winning Danehill granddaughter who is a sister to two other group winners in Chinchilla Rose and Ferocity.
Last but certainly not least, the brilliant Starspangledbanner has suffered from some well publicized fertility issues at stud, but he has five on offer here. An exceptional sprinter on his day, winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes and July Cup (both Eng-I), and his trio of group success in Australia included the MRC Oakleigh Plate (Aus-I) and Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I). Starspangledbanner is a son of another sprint standout in the shape of Choisir (who in turn is by one of the more successful stallion sons of Danehill in Danehill Dancer) and he’s from the immediate family of Elvstroem and Haradasun, who are both international group I winners and are out of group I winner Circles of Gold, a half sister to the granddam of Starspangledbanner. Those with a good memory will recall fertility plagued stallions such as Zephyr Bay and El Gran Senor proved outstandingly effective despite their limited numbers on the track, and the team at Rosemount Stud would be hoping that history repeats here.